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Johnstown exploring Princeton plan

District considers elementary grade-level grouping

October 22, 2012
By MICHAEL ANICH , The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN - The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education's new Elementary Restructuring Committee - studying lower grade-level grouping, also known as the Princeton plan - has met and will meet again in November.

The district is looking to possibly implement such a plan for the 2013-14 school year, and officials vow to seek public input.

The Princeton plan would call for reassigning students to put grade groups together in the same buildings - such as kindergarten through second-grade, third- through fourth-grades, and fifth- through sixth-grades.

Currently, elementary students attend the city's three schools closest to their homes.

Superintendent Robert DeLilli told the board Thursday night the Lansingburgh Central School District in the Troy area in the only district in the region with grade-level grouping.

DeLilli hinted his district might want to visit Lansingburgh.

"It's something that's cutting edge, an education model that would be unique for the area," DeLilli said. "I think it's very exciting."

Before the district closed Jansen Avenue Elementary School in 2009, which left the district with three elementary schools, officials noted the district had many single-class grades in the elementary schools. Even after the four grade schools were consolidated into three, the student population was still small enough to result in several single-class grades.

Board member Kathryn Zajicek, a member of the new Elementary Restructuring Committee, said there was "good participation" in the committee's inaugural meeting Sept. 27. She said the pros and cons were examined, such as "collaboration" among different grade levels, but possible transportation issues.

She and fellow board and committee member Ronald Beck said the committee will continue to meet, possibly again in November.

"We have to get massive publicity out there," Beck said.

Zajicek said if the district seriously wants to consider implementing grade-level grouping for the 2013-14 school year, "We really have to meet more frequently."

DeLilli said grade-level grouping is an emotional "lightning rod" issue to be addressed openly.

"Obviously, there are strong ties to each building," the superintendent said.

But DeLilli said some of the district's students are already being bounced to different buildings based on space issues.

"It's a large topic and there's a lot of things to consider," he said. "I think it's important to involve the stakeholders from the community."



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